Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize 2012


What makes a good portrait? After viewing the photographic portrait competition at the National Portrait Gallery, I can say that two things seem to help as far as the judges are concerned.

First, try to photograph someone famous, and try to have that photo shoot sponsored by a major corporation or media outlet. A small caveat: your famous person should be of the right sort: authors and athletes are great, starlets and X Factor contestants, not so much. The National Portrait Gallery is trying to be more popular but not too popular.

The second thing you should try and do is to have some connection with the London College of Communication. A disproportionate number of the exhibited photographers have attended one of the degree programs at the College, which makes you wonder if the similarities between the portraits are the result of the fact that everyone had the same training rather than something inherent in portraiture itself.

Other than that you generally want to make sure the subject's eyes are looking at the camera.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize is on display at the National Portrait Gallery until the 17th of February.

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